I got a note home yesterday from my ten-year-old's teacher.
It was a safety contract, which we both had to read and sign in order for him to participate–brace yourselves–in building a model car using K'nex. I include a link there for those of you who not only don't have one million of these most terrifying objects already scattered around your house, but don't even know what they are.
Yeah. A safety contract. I confess I didn't read it fully, but I did notice it said things like my child agreed to wait for teacher instructions before proceeding from one step to the next and would not use the materials in any manner beyond that which he was specifically instructed.
Isn't that the point of building toys? You buy them a bucket of random plastic or wooden parts and they don't need instructions? They use their imaginations and their uncluttered view of what is possible and they create?
I can see it now. The entire class, building identical cars, step by tedious step. I remember those projects in school. Come ON! Free the creative spirit, people! And for heaven's sake, a safety contract?
You remember what you did in science class? When we were actually permitted to fire up the Bunsen burner every day and mix chemicals together and wield sharp objects over dead and decaying things? There were some safety issues back then–we burned our tongues and pricked our fingers in Home Ec, ran unaccompanied five miles through a rather frightening part of town during PE, and well, there was the kid who lost a finger in woodshop, but he was an imbecile. And there weren't any genes to blame–he was an imbecile by choice.
I get that they want the kids to be safe, and maybe even protect some of them from their own stupidity, but safety procedures for K'nex? Really? What's the worst that can happen to my ten year old–he gets one up his nose? What mother doesn't know how to fix that? And if she doesn't, well I say it's time she learned; and maybe the teacher, too.